Many families experience divorce. The key is not to let divorce devastate
your family. It is also important to make sure that you are treated fairly during
the divorce process and that agreements you enter into are fair and equitable.
Having an experienced family
law attorney to guide you through this process can make all the difference.
Melissa Pavlack’s and Kathryn Von Badins’ practice is devoted
exclusively to representing clients on family
law matters. For most families, divorce is more than just the legal dissolution
of a marriage. For most families, especially those with young children, issues
and spousal support, custody
and visitation, and division
of marital assets and debts must be resolved.
We work closely with our clients to design solutions to these difficult and emotional
We have found that by taking the time to get to know our clients and understand
their desires, we are better able to resolve most family disputes. In order to
do this, we provide every client with the personal attention necessary to arrive
at a truly beneficial result.
In Pennsylvania, custody is determined based on what is in the best
interest of the child. Of course, many divorcing parents have different ideas
of what arrangements would be in the child's best interest. Any number
of custody arrangements may be made including primary, partial and shared (or
joint) custody and/or visitation rights.
Child custody cases can be resolved in one of two ways. The first option is
to resolve the dispute amicably by reaching an agreement with the other parent.
Doing so may involve mediation. In reaching an amicable resolution, you may not
get everything you want, but you will have more control over the resolution of
Sometimes, an amicable resolution is simply not possible. In these cases,
the matter has to be resolved through litigation in the courtroom. If your custody
case needs to go to trial, we will work hard to ensure that the Court is informed
of all the relevant facts in order to determine the best interests of your child.
Child custody disputes do not always end when a divorce is finished. Sometimes,
situations change and modification of the custody arrangement is required. Oftentimes,
parents re-marry and must relocate out of the county or state. If you find yourself
in this situation, we will explore all aspects of custody relocation law to assist
you with your goals.
In Pennsylvania, child support is determined in most cases by the Pennsylvania
Support Guidelines. The primary focus of the guidelines is the net incomes of
both parties. In most cases, very little discretion is involved, as the Guideline
amount is presumed to be the correct level of support.
However, situations do arise that make it important for an experienced attorney
to oversee the child support determination. In cases involving self-employed
individuals, hidden incomes, disputed incomes and other similar scenarios, child
support can become very complex.
The guidelines are designed to calculate child support up to a certain
income level. If your income level goes above the Guidelines amount, other factors
are used to determine child support payments. These factors are centered on the
needs of the child and the parties, as well as the income of the parties.
After a divorce, situations may arise that require changes to the child support
agreement. We continue to represent our clients as their families and their needs
change and modification of agreements and orders becomes necessary.
We can assist you in the divorce process with the various types of spousal
- Alimony pendente lite (APL): This is the temporary alimony that
is available only if a divorce proceeding is pending.
- Spousal support: This is the financial support that can be provided to a
spouse if there is a separation whether or not a divorce is pending.
- Alimony: Alimony is actually the financial support for a spouse that
commences once the divorce is finalized.
During and after your divorce, you may have questions about the various forms
of support and alimony. As you move forward, we will argue for your positions
on spousal support and alimony based on the factors involved in your case.
Even after a divorce is finalized, alimony may be modifiable. We continue
to represent our clients as future modifications may occur.
Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean that property is divided
equally. To determine how assets are divided, the court looks at a variety
of factors. We work to see that the factors are presented in the light that is
most favorable to our clients.
Valuation of assets is an important step in the equitable distribution process.
To see that all property is valued properly, we will often enlist financial experts
including real estate appraisers, pension evaluators and other professionals
to see that all marital assets are appropriately valued.
In Pennsylvania, claims for alimony are determined at the same time as the equitable
distribution of the marital estate. The two claims may be closely related
and we will work with you to see that your long term financial interests
are considered in the final distribution.
Grandparents may exercise their rights to custody of their grandchildren in
the following limited situations, so long as a grandparent's contact with their
grandchild is in that child's best interest and does not interfere with the parent-child
- The parents have been separate or divorced for at least six months. In this
situation, the grandparents all too often find themselves without any contact
with their grandchild. You may have the right to pursue an action to see that
you are able to remain a part of your grandchild's life.
- One parent is deceased. In these cases, the remaining parent often neglects
the rights of the deceased party’s parents.
- The child has resided with grandparents for a year or more. In certain situations,
a child resides with his or her grandparents for an extended period of time.
Later, a parent re-enters the picture and removes the child from the grandparent's
home, neglecting the rights of the grandparents who have provided care.
PROTECTION FROM ABUSE
A Protection from Abuse Order is a civil order that provides protection from
harm by family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who
share biological parenthood.
A Protection from Abuse Order can do more than protect you and you children. It
- Order the abuser not to abuse, harass, or stalk you, your minor children
or other designated persons;
- Grant you exclusive possession of the residence, whether or not you own or
lease your home separately or together;
- Award temporary custody or temporary visitation rights of your minor children;
- Prohibit the abuser from having any contact with you or your minor children,
including staying away from your or your child’s place of employment, business
- Order the abuser to turn in any of his firearms, other weapons or ammunitions
to the sheriff or police, if he used them or threatened to use them during the
- Grant any other appropriate relief you request.
The penalties for violating a Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Order can
be severe. Violations are brought to court as indirect criminal contempt (ICC)
cases, and violators can be punished by fines and up to six months in jail. Additionally,
PFA orders can have a significant impact on one’s ability to own and carry
weapons under state and federal firearms statutes, and may impact the accused
abuser's ability to obtain or maintain employment. These are serious matters
that demand serious attention.
We have helped many people in Protection from Abuse cases. Whether you are a
victim of abuse, or whether you are facing charges of abuse, we can protect your
rights, and guide you through this painful and emotionally-charged process.